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Time for News Outlets to stop promoting drug war lies

an open letter to WTOP News

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

August 24, 2023

The author submitted the following suggestions to WTOP News today in the hopes of convincing the news outlet to stop promoting the hateful Drug War narrative.

1) regarding coverage of DC killings. In 2014, Ann Heather Thompson wrote the following in the Atlantic: "Without the War on Drugs, the level of gun violence that plagues so many poor inner-city neighborhoods today simply would not exist." Yet most media outlets in the country write as if the rising inner-city gun violence is inexplicable. I request that WTOP start connecting the dots between prohibition and gun violence, for it was prohibition that incentivized the disastrous arming of the hood in the first place, leading to the creation of no-go shooting zones that, to America's shame, have remained in force for almost half a century now.

2) Regarding your coverage of drugs like fentanyl and MDMA and laughing gas: Please remember ALL the stakeholders in the drug debate. When we demonize drugs rather than understand them, we throw pain patients and the depressed under the bus, by forcing them to go without godsends -- or without adequate doses of godsends -- because doctors are afraid to prescribe. There's a call now for the outlawing of laughing gas. That's throwing millions of the depressed under the bus. I hope that WTOP will remind its readers, by way of context, that the philosophy of William James was inspired by his use of laughing gas and that he himself said that we must study altered states in order to understand ultimate reality. "No account of the universe in its totality," wrote James, "can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded." But disregard them we must if prohibitionists have their way.

3) Please be sceptical of anything that the DEA reports. They have a vested interest in seeing that there is always a drug problem. Their multi-billion-dollar budget depends upon it. I suggest that you have your reporters read "Synthetic Panics" before they report government drug information as gospel truth. It tells how the DEA leverages local drug misuse into a series of national crises with the help of agitprop documentaries on shows like 48 Hours. "The New Face of Fentanyl, the New Face of Ice, the New Face of Crack, The New Face of PCP," etc. NIDA is not a good source either, for they fund studies only on abuse and misuse - never on positive use, meaning they are truly a propaganda arm of the US government.

If these suggestions seem controversial, please consider that Donald Trump won the 2016 election because of the Drug War, whose draconian laws sent millions of minorities to jail, thereby depriving them of the right and/or the ability to vote. In fact, that's clearly the REAL reason for the war on drugs: like GOP redistricting, it's a way to let the far right steal elections. 37,000 people are killed by cars every year, but we do not need to outlaw cars: we need to teach safe driving. Just so with the modern scapegoat called drugs. We have created all the problems by ensuring dangerous uncertain drug supplies for users, meanwhile absolutely refusing to teach them safe use - for the insane reason that this might encourage use. Use is not bad in itself. To say so is Christian Science.

In short, please stop reckoning without the Drug War. It has huge negative ramifications on a free society. Please start pushing back with smart coverage that connects the dots between today's problems and our disastrous drug policy. The kinds of drugs we demonize today have inspired entire religions. As Trump's propaganda-aided election has shown, America can have democracy or it can have a Drug War, but it cannot have both.

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Previous essay: Disease Mongering in the age of the drug war

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Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

Materialist puritans do not want to create any drug that elates. So they go on a fool's errand to find reductionist cures for "depression itself," as if the vast array of human sadness could (or should) be treated with a one-size-fits-all readjustment of brain chemicals.
America created a whole negative morality around "drugs" starting in 1914. "Users" became fiends and were as helpless as a Christian sinner -- in need of grace from a higher power. Before prohibition, these "fiends" were habitues, no worse than Ben Franklin or Thomas Jefferson.
Philip Jenkins reports that Rophynol had positive uses for treating mental disorders until the media called it the "date rape drug." We thus punished those who were benefitting from the drug, tho' the biggest drug culprit in date rape is alcohol. Oprah spread the fear virally.
There are a potentially vast number of non-addictive drugs that could be used strategically in therapy. They elate and "free the tongue" to help talk therapy really work. Even "addictive" drugs can be used non-addictively, prohibitionist propaganda notwithstanding.
Alcohol is a drug in liquid form. If drug warriors want to punish people who use drugs, they should start punishing themselves.
This is why the foes of suicide are doing absolutely nothing to get laughing gas into the hands of those who could benefit from it. Laughing is subjective after all. In the western tradition, we need a "REAL" cure to depression.
I'd like to become a guinea pig for researchers to test the ability of psychoactive drugs to make aging as psychologically healthy as possible. If such drugs cannot completely ward off decrepitude, they can surely make it more palatable. The catch? Researchers have to be free.
The American Philosophy Association should make itself useful and release a statement saying that the drug war is based on fallacious reasoning, namely, the idea that substances can be bad in themselves, without regard for why, when, where and/or how they are used.
We should hold the DEA criminally responsible for withholding spirit-lifting drugs from the depressed. Responsible for what, you ask? For suicides and lobotomies, for starters.
What bothers me about AI is that everyone's so excited to see what computers can do, while no one's excited to see what the human mind can do, since we refuse to improve it with mind-enhancing drugs.
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You have been reading an article entitled, Time for News Outlets to stop promoting drug war lies: an open letter to WTOP News, published on August 24, 2023 on For more information about America's disgraceful drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-scientific, anti-mother nature, imperialistic, the establishment of the Christian Science religion, a violation of the natural law upon which America was founded, and a childish and counterproductive way of looking at the world, one which causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, visit the drug war philosopher, at (philosopher's bio; go to top of this page)